RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Lottery Commission approved a series of rules for mobile sports betting on Thursday but did not give any clearer indication when people will be able to start placing bets.
Earlier this week, officials acknowledged betting will not begin on Jan. 8, which is the earliest date possible under the law. The deadline to launch is June 15.
The new rules approved Thursday touch on a variety of issues including how companies can advertise to players. The commission also approved a catalog that outlines what sports and leagues betting operators will be able to accept wagers. There is also a petition process that will be in place to add to the catalog in the future.
Those leagues so far include the World Cup, World Championship and Four Hills Tournament.
The commission decided against including fantasy sports in the rules they adopted amid controversy over what that language should be and what authority the commission has to regulate that.
“We want to take the time right now to focus on our main goal, which is getting licensees up, operating and running so we can start having sports wagering in the state. And, right now, to focus on this would be a distraction,” said Billy Traurig, chief legal officer for the NC Education Lottery. “And, we sit back right now and see what happens in other states and not worry about it until another date if at all.”
Commissioners on Thursday did not say when they think mobile sports betting will actually begin. They’re still taking public comment on additional rules and have not yet begun taking applications from sports betting operators.
The law allows for betting on professional, collegiate, amateur and electronic sports.
A report published this week by NCSharp.com noted that the process has taken longer in North Carolina than it did in Ohio and Massachusetts when they launched mobile sports betting. The article points out those states also had more legal gambling operations in place before allowing sports betting. The NC Education Lottery has hired Sterl Carpenter to oversee the implementation of sports betting in the Tar Heel State. He also worked on the rollout in Massachusetts.
In addition to sports betting, the lottery launched digital instant games this week. The games have the look of online slot machines. The lottery sets limits on what players can wager in a given day, week or month.
State leaders are also still considering legalizing additional gambling options when they return for the legislative short session next spring.
At the close of this year’s session, Republican leaders dropped a plan to authorize four additional casinos and video lottery terminals amid pushback from within the party about including that plan in the state budget.
“I don’t want to say it’s inevitable, but I do believe that the movement will still be there to push forward,” said Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln). “We’ll know more about how much money we’re losing in North Carolina to Virginia. And, I think that will make some legislators stop and think for a little bit.”
As the state increasingly turns to gambling options as a source of revenue, Alexandra Sirota of the left-leaning NC Budget and Tax Center says she’s concerned about fueling problem gambling and Republican state leaders simultaneously prioritizing tax cuts.
“The level of accessibility, the ways in which online games are promoted, the kind of research that’s been done shows the tremendous addictive potential,” she said. “It’s really time to take a pause and think carefully about how to set up systems, how to make sure we’re ready to support people who are struggling with gambling.”